Milan go top after come-from-behind win
Published : 11 Feb 2012 20:46:46
Youngster Stephan El Shaarawy was the hero as AC Milan hit back from a goal down to beat Udinese 2-1 on Saturday and take over at the top of the Serie A table.
The rossoneri leapfrogged Juventus, whose game at Bologna on Sunday night has been called off due to the snow, although they have played two games more than their rivals.
Antonio Di Natale had given fourth-placed Udinese, who came into the game unbeaten at home this season, a first half lead but Maxi Lopez equalised before El Shaarawy snatched the winner five minutes from time.
It was the first time in four years that Milan had won at Udinese who could have joined their opponents in joint-second had they won.
Instead they missed the chance to move into the third and final Champions League qualifying place which is occupied by Lazio, who beat Cesena 3-2 on Thursday.
Udinese controlled the first half but the loss of Di Natale and Mauricio Isla to injury contributed to Milan being reborn in the second period.
In a freezing Stadio Friuli the match took it's time to warm up and it was the hosts who created the first chances.
On 19 minutes Serie A top scorer Di Natale played a quick one-two with midfielder Gelson Fernandes, splitting the Milan defence, and then shot home via a deflection off Thiago Silva.
The goal sparked a good period for the home team who invited Milan onto them only to hit their visitors with rapier counters.
Milan's only chance came from a rare defensive mistake that let El Shaarawy in on goalkeeper Samir Handanovic but he failed to capitalise.
Milan were more aggressive and quicker after the break while Udinese lost Isla, who left the pitch on a stretcher after a collision with Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini.
Udinese wasted two glorious opportunities to extend their lead and then lost Di Natale to injury before Milan equalised.
Urby Emanuelson picked up the rebound from an Udinese corner and fed El Shaawary whose cross shot was too hot for Handanovic to handle and Maxi Lopez scooped up the loose ball to score with 13 minutes left.
Two minutes later El Shaarawy missed a chance to put Milan in front.
By now Milan had taken command of the midfield battle and poured forward in search of the winner.
Pablo Armero missed the chance to snatch it for the hosts on the counter-attack but then with time running out, Maxi Lopez set up El Shaarawy to steal it for the champions.